Posted by: Little Miss | January 2, 2008

Blog 365 Challenge (Cross-Post)

(Posted originally on Little Miss Sew N Sew)

Okay, I’m in. My friend Moonbeam McQueen invited me to join this challenge, brought to you by Ning.com (http://blog365.ning.com/). So as not to clutter my other two blogs (this one and my Attitude is Everything blog), I created another one just for the Blog 365 challenge.

Check it out, and leave me a comment if you please: Random Inkings (http://littlemisdaily.wordpress.com)

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Posted by: Little Miss | December 29, 2007

Attitude Adjusters

It’s the little things, if you pay attention, that can change your attitude.

Today, my oldest daughter, her boys, and I spent some lovely time together. It was nice to be spontaneous and drop everything and go visit her. I’d been feeling like I had a cold, but I think it was just a case of allergies, so when she wanted someone to go shopping with her and the boys, I was game.

We buckled up and went first to a consignment store and bought her a nice little swing for the baby. We had a nice time touring around the local town – think, Smalltown, America. There was a post office, a police station-fire station combo, a library, and a church. Oh, and the consignment store. Really, there was a bit more, but not much. This town borders a lake, and it really was quite nice.

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Then we had to stop and feed the baby, so while mama did that in the van, I wandered quickly through Value Village (a thrift store) and found a couple nice finds. Then off we went to Wal-Mart.

Since my daughter is also on a limited budget – who isn’t these days? – and this particular Wal-Mart has food, we did some grocery shopping there. Prices were great, and baby slept through the whole thing. Cayden was great and our shopping time was about an hour or so. I pushed Evan and the groceries in one cart, and mama and Cayden led the way with another cart. I played peek-a-boo with Cayden by peeking around the bonnet of Evan’s carseat. Cayden loves it when his Danma plays with him like that.

Finally we were ready to check out. Every line was long, and of course, I picked the slowest one. And was it ever slow. Slower than molasses. I swear the checker had lead in her arms and could hardly lift a box of Fruit Loops. My attitude had slowly been going from having fun with my grandson and daughter to being painfully aware that my feet hurt in my boots on the concrete floor, and irritated that the checker was so slow.

Finally, thirty minutes later (I kid you not) standing in line, we get up to our turn at the register. Then the register’s computer froze up.

However, while we were waiting for the register to get fixed – another several long, irritating minutes – my daughter was chatting with the lady behind her who was also there with her grandson. Her grandson was saying things like “Grandma, will you buy me this?” and my daughter told the lady, “Oh, my son already does that to my mom,” and pointed to me. (The lady looked to me to be about 55 and her grandson somewhere around 9.)

All of a sudden, I’m startled out of my trance of disdain towards the checker, the manager, and Wal-Mart, and hyperfocusing on my painful feet and my back that is starting to hurt, when the other grandmother comes up to me. She places her warm hand on mine, smiles, and pleasantly says, “It’s so GREAT to see another YOUNG grandmother! I thought you were her sister,” gesturing towards my daughter.

I beamed. And in that instant, my attitude changed.

Attitude adjusters come in many forms, mostly unexpected ones. But you have to be open to hearing them.

Posted by: Little Miss | December 24, 2007

Was Grinchy, Now Grinchless

I started off this season sort of feeling like this:

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I was pretty bah-humbug Grinch-like, to be certain. I avoided the stores at all costs, mostly because I didn’t have the money to spend. But I had a conversation with my younger daughter a couple days ago after I made a comment about hating Christmas. She told me to stop. She likes Christmas and this was because I worked so hard when she and her sister were little to make it a wonderful event, and that it has happy memories and associations for her. I had never really heard her say that before. When I mentioned what she said to my older daughter she also agreed, saying that was why she works so hard to make it wonderful for her children also.

So I figured, enough of my selfish poo-pooing about the holiday. It’s going to come and go regardless of my circumstances and I’ve learned that my attitude isn’t confined to me only. I rub off on other people whether I intend to or not. (I guess that goes for positive feelings also?) My negativity was bringing people down, and self-pity and worrying that this would be another lonely holiday like last year won’t get me anywhere.

So, my attitude has changed. Thank you to all of you who have reminded me that things will be better – they already are. In that spirit, I’d like to list twelve things I’m grateful for this holiday:

  1. I have a roof over my head. It’s all my own (and the bank’s) but it’s mine.
  2. Inside the four walls of my roof, I have warmth, heat, enough food, and seven furry animals that love me unconditionally and keep my feet warm at night.
  3. I have my very own Cindy Lou Who, embodied in my oldest daughter, who reminds me that Christmas is more than just presents and spending money.
  4. I have my younger daughter who reminded me that I’m a good mom, and who keeps on trying despite so many obstacles she encounters in life.
  5. I have a car that runs and has gas and insurance. That may seem obvious and taken for granted by many, but I fully recognize that it could be different. I could be taking the bus places, or driving without insurance.
  6. It’s not raining today, and it’s not snowing, which means even with tires that need replacing, I can get to my mother’s for Christmas dinner tomorrow and enjoy seeing the grandkids open what presents we did get them.
  7. My mother’s roommate who takes great care of my mother. This woman loves her, cooks for her, drives her across country to see her only living cousin, and makes sure she’s comfortable and safe.
  8. My father. Even though he’s not physically around, to me he’s around in spirit. It’s his example that taught me to pick myself up by my bootstraps and keep trudging, even when the visibility down the road gets extremely limited.
  9. My fibromyalgia. Even with this limitation, it’s forced me to slow down and look at my priorities differently.
  10. My blogland friends. Many of you I met through this blog because of my fibromyalgia and I’m so glad I met you. The humor, compassion, honesty, and strength you all exhibit inspires me.
  11. Unemployment income. Without it, I’d be a very scared girl indeed.
  12. Faith and spirituality. My own version of it. Without these things, which intermingle thus why I listed them together, I would not be the strong person I am today, and I wouldn’t have the fortitude and stamina to keep plugging away and getting up every day.

Happy holidays, everyone. For my Christmas card to you, check out my other blog. 🙂

Posted by: Little Miss | December 19, 2007

Wanted: Attitude Adjustment

I’m so full of sh*#. Or at least I am today. The problem with blogging is once you post something, it’s out there. You’ve revealed yourself if you’re honest, stripped away the mask, and switching tunes then becomes embarassing. Or real. Or real stupid.

Anyway, yesterday, the whole layoff thing hit me. Especially after a very good friend of mine – the one who helped me get the job in the first place – called. I almost cried on the phone. He said he felt responsible and I vehemently told him in no way did I blame him for any of this, or even remotely think he was to blame. I do know things work out for a reason, but I’m still just raw emotionally.

Then today, while waiting at the chiropractor’s office, I got a message from the partner who laid me off. To be honest, they have converted me to hourly and I only get paid for billable hours – hours that they can pass on to a client. But on Friday they said there wasn’t anything for me to do right now but I knew better. I asked about the two things I had in progress on my computer. They said, “We’ll take care of it.” Well, one of those things is now in process of being extended to a Phase 2 project and I just submitted a bid to work on it. The other thing is just some rewriting and editing of a service brochure.

The point is – I feel yanked around. On one hand, they say they don’t need me right now; on the other hand, they need me right away. I don’t know which way is up. All I want to do is crawl under the covers and cry. And that is soooo not me.

I learned yesterday more of what was going on at the company, and it’s very clear that the owners are just running the business in a not-so-smart fashion and it’s impacting so many more people than just me. And maybe I’m dodging a bullet. Who knows. But even though my head knows this, my heart isn’t catching up so fast and all I can say to myself is “Merry Effin Christmas”. It’s really not in my nature to have a negative attitude about things for long. I usually, as expressed earlier, switch to positive motion quickly and move ahead with new goals.

And my fibro is flaring up. Great. Sigh. Three guesses why and the first two don’t count.

At least tomorrow’s a new day and I can start over then.

Posted by: Little Miss | December 17, 2007

Even in the Tunnel, There is Light

Some of my friends have said, “There may be light at the end, but the tunnel’s a bitch.” Or words to that effect.

For some reason, I’ve never succumbed to the belief. I believe that even the tunnel can present blessings. I all depends on my attitude. Hence the reason for this blog and why I named it what I did. I’ve always felt, somewhat as Polyanna did, that even the darkest moments have something positive about them. You just have to believe it and be open to receive it. (This doesn’t negate the fact that I’m fully aware that bad things do happen to good people, even when they have good attitudes – I can’t explain that, and won’t try. I’m just explaining my experiences, with the hope that it offers peace of mind to others somehow.)

The recent turn of events with my employment status has not been a bad thing for me at all. In fact, even later that day, I heard from a colleague that the client they had me working with still wanted more work from me after the first of the year. So there’s that prospect. And the job market where I live, for what I do, is still fairly hot and I’m highly marketable. So, I’m not worried about finding employment soon – sometime in January.

What I was worried about was money – especially for this month. I was concerned that the meager amount of unemployment, along with having NO savings, and no severance would mean I’d be late on some bills. Even so, I put that worry aside for the weekend and let myself enjoy the weekend with my daughter and her kids. We played, baked cookies, and slept in as much as anyone can with an infant and a two year old in the house. I told my daughter, who was worried for me, that the money would come from somewhere – it always does. I always have what I need – maybe not what I want, but what I need.

I often surprise myself at this attitude and wonder just where I get it from. I seem to have this deep, sense of knowing – rather than belief – that I’ve always been taken care of (by life, my higher power, God, whatever you want to call it). Where does the knowing come from? I’m not sure. I try to be careful not to characterize myself as Polyanna, but when I did a little research on her, it appears she got her optimism from her father. I think I did as well.

Let me give you an example. In the early 80s, my father built a successful direct marketing business with two partners in Paris, France. He was so successful that his partners got greedy and literally locked him out. He learned of his departure one evening when he saw a letter that was left at the copy machine. Later, he was locked out of his office, and I believe – if I recall correctly – my parents were locked out of the apartment that the company was paying for. My father had a long legal battle ahead of him to get what he was owed from his partners, but meanwhile, he and my mother decided to move back to the States after ten years in Europe.

It took a while before my father found a job, and although they had some savings, it wasn’t enough. (Here’s where the facts get a bit muddled because, since it didn’t happen directly to me, this is just how I remember the story.) Somehow the bank made a duplicate deposit of an enormous sum of money – I think it was from the sale of some property they owned – into my father’s account. He was able to use this money while working with the bank to get their error fixed. He had access to this money at just the time he needed it most, and the bank fixed the error (coincidentally?) at just the time he landed a good job and the money was repaid.

And from my father’s example, I learned that things always work out. Somehow.

Today, before I even had time to start figuring out my financial situation, my youngest daughter (who lives with me) got a surprise call from her school financial aid department and they had a check there waiting for her. Yes, she has to pay this back eventually, but it’s just enough to help us through this month until more money comes in next month.

Maybe I really am a Polyanna.

Posted by: Little Miss | December 14, 2007

Looking for the open door

“When one door closes, another opens.” Or so the saying goes. Where’s that danged open door? I think I see it, but I’m not sure.

Let me explain now that the shock has worn off. I just finished this huge project for a client of my employer’s and this morning went in to the office to finish up some loose ends. I’d been there 45 minutes and my boss asked me if I had a “few minutes”. Fine. I follow him to the opposite side of the building while a strong sense of foreboding wells up inside me. I knew there was trouble when my boss’ boss and the HR manager came in with papers in hand.

Cut to the chase: I got laid off. Not just me, but three others on my team as well. They “converted me to an hourly employee”, so they say, which means I get paid for the work I do – if there is work. But they say there’s not enough billable work to keep me on salary, so unemployment here I come. (I’ve already filed – no dust piling up on this keyboard.) Frankly, they didn’t even really try to find more writing clients. Whatever.

After a brief period of shock and wanting to cry, I believe I know what I want to do. I know my value and, to quote my colleague, I’m “one of the best editors in the region”. So, I think I’m going to join the ranks of full-time freelancing and raise my own salary, set my own schedule, and view this as a blessing in disguise.

Right now, I’m having to pull on my faith and belief that everything that happens in my life happens for a reason. Just like my father taught me: The worst things that happen to me turn out to be the best things that happen to me.

I will survive, and probably do even better than I was just last week.

Posted by: Little Miss | December 9, 2007

Contrary To My Expectations

In my last post, I mentioned how I figured my client would wonder why I hadn’t delivered as I thought he expected me to – or as I’d promised. I was wrong. Instead, he was extremely pleased and felt the voice and tone changes I’d made to his document were a great improvement and that the document read so much better now. Phew! My colleague and I were very happy with this reaction Friday night, and she congratulated me on a job well done. Well, I’m not completely done – I still have more edits to make, reinstate some footnotes and hyperlinks, fix font issues, rewrite some sections and try to incorporate some areas the client insists on keeping. This takes tact and finesse to be able to please the client, while still keeping the document readable for the audience. I can do this. This is what I’ve worked years to learn and what I’m good at, so I’m not worried.

Yesterday, I had expectations to make around ten dozen cookies with my grandkids and my daughter and that didn’t happen either. We had a blast though because I enjoyed the time with them. What a blessing it is to hear my six year old granddaughter say how she loves having Grandma come over and bake cookies. She was such a good helper and really enjoyed it. My little two year old grandson though just thought he was supposed to eat the cookie dough. He didn’t understand about cutting it out and baking it or decorating it. But, hey, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Now today, I had fully expected to spend the afternoon writing and editing and getting a head start on work I need to do this week. The final document from the aforementioned client is due Friday. Instead, since I had fibro-insomnia last night, partially aided by little doggies that wouldn’t settle down, I was exhausted all day. And in pain. My foot bones hurt, my shoulders, hip, knee, back, and elbows hurt. And I feel the fibro fog in the brain. I can’t focus.

So, contrary to my expectations, what I hoped to accomplish this weekend didn’t happen, but it’s all good. I had fun with the family, and today I’m resting and taking care of myself.

************* 

Update on the PT issue – she’s been fired. Not formally of course, but fired nonetheless. My chiropractor has me going on a different path of treatment including deep tissue massage. His eyebrows raised when I told him what she said and did, and he must have discussed it with his wife (also a chiropractor) because my next visit with him, he encouraged me to fire her and stated that her actions and comments were “borderline reportable.” She’s not a monster, and she has taught me some good things. However, it’s now to the point where I’ve lost trust in her, I tense up when I’m there, and I don’t want to go. That’s not a good place for a healing relationship. And a very bad place to be if you have fibromyalgia.

Posted by: Little Miss | December 6, 2007

Done. Enough.

I just completed a marathon 13.5 hours of editing and preparing a document for the first round of edits by the client – a client who really knows nothing about how document editing and review works, or how to prepare a document. And the client – who works for a giant software company – doesn’t realize how crappy their word processing program is that I am forced to work with. Even after 13.5 solid hours, I didn’t have a finished document the way I promised I would because the program kept crashing on me and it gets to a point of diminishing returns. So I shipped what I had.

Now I’m waiting for the shoe to drop tomorrow. The client will wonder why I didn’t deliver as promised. Because I’m not freaking SUPERWOMAN, that’s why. Because he stole 100 hours of my editing time, that’s why. Because I’m tired, that’s why.

And all during this, my daughter – the new mommy – was having a bad day and I wanted to be there for her and help out, but I couldn’t. There was no way I could stop my work and go over there – not without making matters worse with the client, which would ultimately go badly for me with my job.

Someday, I’ll work it out where I have balance – where I can put my family first the way I want to. There were so many times when my kids were little that I had to put work first for fear of getting fired. I was a single mom, so I had no security net to land on if I failed. I still have no security net, and I still feel bad when I can’t be there to help my daughter. It’s only been two weeks and she’s alone with three children. That’s hard for any woman. Husband has to work, but mom should be able to help out. I wish.

Now I know a flare-up is coming from the stress of this deadline. And I still have more work to do and the final document has to be delivered next Friday.

I know one thing for sure. When an engineer says a document is pretty good and doesn’t need much editing – do NOT believe him. They have no clue. And next time I have to estimate hours for a client like this, I’m doubling – maybe even tripling – my estimate.

Posted by: Little Miss | December 2, 2007

Fibro – First and Foremost

I wish that was not the case, but it is. This means that for every action I take, I have to think how much energy it will use, what responsibilities and commitments I have in the next few days that might be impacted if I have a flareup, and what I can do to minimize a flare up. The brain drain thinking those things alone causes fatigue.

There are some things I do – like help my new-mommy-daughter – where it doesn’t matter. I’m going to push through anyway and consequences be damned. But on an average day, I really have to guage my energy exertions, especially so I have enough left to do the job for which I’m paid – editing and writing for a consulting firm.

When I was hired at this job this year, I had symptoms of fibro, but never in my wildest dreams did I think this was the cause of my overall aches and pains and fatigue. It got worse when I had to commute daily to downtown with a one-hour or more bus ride each way. After diagnosis, I told my immediate staff manager, who has tried to be understanding. It’s hard to describe to other people just how bad it can get, especially if you’re like me and you make looking perfect on the outside a career itself. What I’ve taken to doing to conserve energy is to work from home as much as possible. This works fine for my staff manager and other people I work for, including clients. They couldn’t care less where I work from as long as I produce and I’m available by the usual channels: instant messenger, email, phone, and the occasional in-person meeting.

However, for my boss’ boss, it’s not such an easy sell. I’m not sure why – and he’s a thirty-something so that makes it even more confounding to me. It seems to me like a no-brainer for the modern world. And some recent developments at work mean I’m going to have to disclose my physical condition to him as well. I dread that. I’m stressing about it, and the stress causes flare-ups, and so it goes. My concern is being looked at differently – as someone who isn’t what they expected when hired, or someone who can’t do the job, or someone who is a dead weight that the company no longer wants. 

On a side note – my last visit with my physical therapist was a bit uncomfortable. At one point she again brought up weight loss. I am not sure where she thinks she has the right to keep mentioning this to me as if I’m 400 pounds overweight with comments like, your knees will hurt less, and so on. She clearly has me confused with someone else. And nothing she’s telling me is news. I’ve heard it all before and for all my life and I’ll do something about it when I’m good and ready. So, finally, I was very direct, told her I had absolutely no interest in my weight right now, and that losing weight was the least of my concerns. I’m more concerned about how to deal with the fibro daily so I can hang on to my job, continue to support myself, and keep paying my mortgage. She later told me I was borderline bitchy. Sheesh. I’m borderline close to getting a new therapist.

So, that’s where I am tonight. I have to drive into work tomorrow for one reason only: to make an appearance. I get resentful of that, fearful of a flareup, and guilty because I know my company has a business to run and I want to be a valuable contributor to them. I’m also scared that my first huge editing project for their client will be a flop because I’ve wasted energy – and time = commuting to a office that is not conducive to editing. I’m sure that won’t be the case (that my project will flop) but I’m worried nonetheless.

Now for my beauty sleep… toodles!

Posted by: Little Miss | November 29, 2007

How to Market Yourself

For my readers who are starting out in the freelance writing biz – I know there’s two of you – here’s some good advice to follow. Written by a fellow copyeditor, she relates how her husband, a skilled cabinet maker, is venturing into the realms of self-employment. The moral of the story is if a lone cabinet maker can market himself successfully, so can the rest of us writers and editors. It’s also a very concise and easy list to follow.

Check it out here at Editor Mom.

Posted by: Little Miss | November 25, 2007

Either Overshare or Interesting – You Decide

Moonbeam McQueen quietly tagged me so I could offer up some interesting – or maybe not so interesting – things about myself with a little meme. I’m always game if someone wants to know something. Here are the rules.

“Have to come up with seven ‘facts’ about self and post these rules:

1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Then I have to tag 7 innocent bloggers. That’s the part that I have the most trouble with.”

I’ll do like she did and just link to people at the bottom of my post and if they want to participate, great. If not, that’s their choice. I believe memes are like email. You can respond if you want, forward if you want, or simply delete it.

So. Seven things that I haven’t said here or on my other-mostly-sewing blog?

  1. I like football. I’m watching it now. My hometown team is the Seattle Seahawks, and I know enough about football to enjoy the game, but there’s also much I don’t know.
  2. I don’t like city life. As a preteen, I had to follow my parents through the streets of London. They walked in front of me, I walked alone behind them. I was terrified. I don’t like crowds, and I don’t like driving in the city. I love suburbia and country and beaches. My dream house would be on the ocean or lakefront. The house I have now, while not close to water, is pretty darn perfect with being smack in the middle of suburbia but next to a greenbelt so it’s like I’m in the country.
  3. When I was a child, I used to draw floorplans for houses I someday wanted to build. If I hadn’t become a writer, I probably would have been some sort of artist or interior decorator or fashion designer. In fact, when I became pregnant at 18 with my first child, I went back to Paris where my parents were living. (I didn’t know I was pregnant at the time, however.) I later found out that my parents were willing to put me through art school in Paris – even with a child and unwed. Why, oh why, did I never hear that until it was much too late?
  4. I detest holidays. All of them. It’s not the family gathering stuff, joyful faces of kids, or the lights and trees, and homey feeling of the season –  it’s all the marketing hype and media and the pressure to spend money I don’t have on crap no one wants or needs. Since I give to my loved ones all year long in one way or another, I feel pressured – and subsequently depressed – when I can’t live up to the expectations society places on us to buy, buy, buy. My father was the same way. He wanted us to go to Hawaii one year and skip Christmas. I like that idea now. Hated it then. Of course, I was only nine then. This year, I’m not buying anything for anyone except for my little grandkids. Everyone else gets good wishes, or something handmade with yarn.
  5. I don’t eat breakfast. Or rarely. In fact, I’d be happy never eating. Not that I’m anorexic or anything like that. I just find it gets in the way of things I’d rather be doing. And I don’t like cooking, don’t know how to cook really, and don’t care to learn. I don’t like fancy food, just plain meat and potatoes and simple stuff. I could live off of Marie Calenders frozen entrees. Because there’s portion control, I’d probably lose weight. But I don’t struggle with my weight. I’m quite content just the way I am.
  6. I never wanted to raise my kids alone. I always dreamed of having a wonderful husband but that never happened. Sometimes I feel I shortchanged my girls because they didn’t have a respectable father, but they did have an awesome grandfather. After my first husband, I think I became terrified of men and of being rejected and hurt, but mostly being criticized as the men I’ve dated were always very critical.  I still am scared of trying even though a companion is something I really want and know would add joy to my life. Sometimes I’m afraid it’s too late now, even though I’m still in my 40s.
  7. I’d like to travel to other parts of the United States. I’d like to see the Carolinas, Florida, Texas, and New England. I have no desire to go to New York. See #2 above.  I sometimes think of packing everything up and moving somewhere warm, but I’d never, ever move that far away from my family. Likely, if my son-in-law was ever transferred across the country, I might just follow them so I could be close to my daughter and grandkids.

I’ll tag the following:

My friend April.

My daughter.

Life With Buck – if she hasn’t already been tagged.

That’s it. I have no others I want to tag. Moonbeam tagged some I’d like to hear from, and all my sewing buddies have already done this. How about this – if you want to do your own meme go ahead, let me know in my comments that you did, and I’ll be happy to come to your blog and read it.

Posted by: Little Miss | November 23, 2007

The Grand Parenting Fatigue Syndrome

When you can experience this…

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Wouldn’t it make all the pain, aches, and exhaustion worthwhile?

For me, it does. The last few days have been all about pushing through the pain and exhaustion so that I can be there for my daughter and her new baby and the rest of her sweet family. In two days, I’ve driven over 250 miles. I’ve babysat an active 2-1/2 year old and a six year old, and chauffeured my mother to and from her home so she could join us for Thanksgiving. I’ve done more housework than I usually do at my own home.

I’m not mentioning all this so I can get pats on the back for being a martyr or any such thing. I have this deep desire to be there for my kids and to participate fully in life – as fully as I can – so I push through the pain and the fatigue because I know that someday I’ll be able to catch up on the rest.

Lately, though, as I do these things, I’ve also been pondering my own relationship with my mother – both looking back on past events and looking forward to the future. Finally, I had a moment of clarity last night as I dropped her off at her door. It seems to me that as she gets older, she becomes more distant and disconnected from me and any sense of family I have with her. I don’t know if this is because she’s 87, because she’s not my biological mother, or because she never had any kids of her own. She “got me” when I was 2-1/2, the youngest of three, and the only girl.  My mother is also forty years older than me, so at 42 she gained an immediate family of three active toddlers.

I’m not sure I understand the changes happening between my mother and me, and I know she loves me and I love her. She’s never been an expressive person or touchy-feely. But what these changes bring to me is an added determination to be ever closer to my daughters, to be there for them whenever they need me, and to make sure that I create the sense of family I always longed to have with my mother. That’s all I can do.

So I push through the pain and fatigue, because parenting is a grand thing. A blessing. A privilege. An honor. And that makes grand parenting the best role of all. And I love every minute of it.

Posted by: Little Miss | November 19, 2007

Of Fathers and Grandsons – Part One

Fourteen years ago today my father passed over. I don’t say he passed away, passed on, or died, for in his human life he had a strong and indomitable spirit. I know that today, as I remember him and as I am about to be introduced to my second grandson tomorrow morning, his spirit is very much alive around my family and me.

My father was an alcoholic. But I never saw him drink. He sobered up when I was six months old and lived to have 32 consecutive years of sobriety without a relapse. He used to say he was allergic to alcohol – any time he drank he broke out in spots: Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles.

My father lived a wonderful life. He was the third son of an accomplished photographer. He had two older brothers, eleven and twelve years his senior, who were very famous in their own right. One was Princess Grace’s private photographer and the other was a World War II Flying Ace who was also a test pilot for the first McDonnell-Douglas DC10s. I sometimes think that perhaps his brothers’ accomplishments and fame might have made my father feel as if his achievements were less than noble or remarkable, but he would have been quite wrong. My father was an accomplished musician, actor, post-Korean War veteran, a self-financed Stanford graduate with a political science major. Among many notable business victories, he was highly successful starting a direct marketing business in France in the early 80s- so successful his partners literally locked him out.

But that’s not what made him remarkable. At least not in my eyes, or in those of his closest friends and his widow. He was a wonderful parent, husband, and friend. One of his friends refers to him as a spiritual giant. He was wise, tenacious, strong, had a healthy sense of humor and love of adventure.

When I was less than two, my birth mother ran off with my father’s AA sponsor. This was absolutely devastating to my father, naturally, and he fought hard to keep my two older brothers and me during a time when single parenting was rare, let alone by a man, and my birth mother was trying to farm us out to her relatives. My father gained custody of three toddlers, all in diapers at the same time. Plus he worked a full-time job. (And I wonder where I get my stamina from?)

My father used to say frequently that the worst things that happened to him always turned out to be the best things that happened to him. Had his wife not run off with his AA sponsor, he wouldn’t have met and married the woman who adopted me, who I know as my mother. He used to laugh about it later saying some sponsors will go to any lengths to keep their sponsees sober – even if it means running off with their wives. My father’s alcoholism was another example of this theory. He met my mother in AA. She now has almost 50 years of continuous sobriety. Together they started many AA groups and I can’t count the number of people who I meet who still remember my father and the positive impact he left in their lives.

My father gave me a great childhood, but he was far from over-indulgent. He saw to it that I got every opportunity possible. As a child of two or three, he used to read The Night Before Christmas to me every night until I memorized it and began reading before kindergarten. I got private schools, ballet and swim lessons, piano and violin lessons, singing and diction coaches. He played guitar and sang with me, he taught me to sail, and he took us all across Europe and we saw endless castles, tulips, and French Riviera coastlines – all before I was 14. I traveled from London to Madrid with my school at 13, to Germany at 15 (alone) and received an excellent British and American education.

When I was 16, being around my father was one of the last places I wanted to be. I was sixteen, and it went with the job description. I wasn’t a nice sixteen year old either. I was mean to my mother and my father. During one tirade, I told my father he was a jerk. In response, my father waited a couple days and handed me a letter. In this letter, he humbly and sincerely admitted that I was right. The letter was full of advice about how hard it was to determine where the line should be drawn between providing opportunity and over-indulging a child. He felt perhaps he wasn’t raised to be a parent, and that raising children took the wisdom of Solomon, and “Solomon, I ain’t.” And he signed off saying, “I may be a jerk, but I’m a jerk who loves you very much.”

I was the jerk. And my father did have the wisdom of Solomon. When I became pregnant at 18, he stood by me. I remember at one point he told me that he may not always approve of my choices in life, but he always approved of me and would always stand by me. He never faltered from this. I have passed on this same steadfast love and philosophy to my own daughters.

My father’s wisdom, humor, and attitude pervades every part of my life, every action I take, and much of his wisdom I apply to my life today. From his example, I’ve worked hard to define the line between opportunity and over-indulgence with my own children.

But tomorrow, I’m going to over-indulge – in my daughter and son-in-law as they deliver their second son, and their last child. My new baby grandson and my father’s great grandson. And my father’s spirit will be all around us, laughing, smiling, and winking.

And now I’d better get some sleep, for it sure feels like the Night Before Christmas.

Posted by: Little Miss | November 18, 2007

Counting Down

Since we’re still counting down to a new baby being born into the family, I figured I’d do a bit of counting down as to what I’ve accomplished since last Thursday, despite my fibromyalgia.

  • Spent time with my pregnant daughter and helped her get things ready for baby.
  • Drove to and from work and a client’s site probably 100 miles in two days.
  • Drove my daughter to her doctor appointment and to run some errands. Probably another 75 miles of driving.
  • Did six loads of laundry, including folding, and putting away.
  • Cleaned my stairs on my hands and knees.
  • Cleaned the kitchen.
  • Cleaned (mopped) 2/3 of my hardwood floors wich equates to 2/3 of my house since it’s all hardwood.
  • Slipped and fell at my daughter’s – probably bruising my left knee.
  • Got my nails done.
  • Played with my very active grandson
  • Worked hard at work accomplishing some significant stuff with a client
  • Stressed out about my daughter’s contractions over the weekend
  • Changed a kitchen ceiling lightbulb – okay, so that doesn’t sound like much, but if you have fibro, then you know just how hard and painful it is to climb up on the kitchen countertop to change the floodlight.
  • Sorted 100 balls of yard by color and type – well, it seemed like that many.
  • Hemmed four pairs of my daughter’s scrubs

I’m sure I did more things. For most people – hell, even for me a year ago – this list is nothing. It’s the normal things that everyone does. However for me, with fibromyalgia, this is a daunting list. And my body is reminding me that I’m not who I used to be last year.

Tomorrow I have another huge day ahead of me. In a way, I’m resentful because I had planned to take the day off on vacation as it’s the day before my daughter is scheduled to have her last baby. Instead I’m required to attend a three-hour meeting plus drive out to a client’s site, driving another 80-100 miles total, and coming home to finish up the last of the preparations for having my 2 and 6 year old grandchildren come to stay for a couple days while mommy and daddy and new baby are at the hospital. Oh, and let’s not forget about the seven animals that also live with me – four cats and three Chihuahuas.

At least this next week is a holiday week. So there’s some time off there to hopefully get some rest. If my body doesn’t force me to stop before then – which it’s trying to do now.

Am I whining? Well, maybe just a bit. But I push myself through because I know at some point I’ll be able to stop. Even if it’s at the hospital enjoying the little bundle of cheer and delight that will emerge in less than 34 hours (as I write this.) And, I’m not the one who has to undergo surgery, so I’m thankful for that, and I’m deeply grateful that I get to be present for all of this.

That’s more than many people get.

Posted by: Little Miss | November 15, 2007

Just Call Me Grace

The last 48 hours have been very busy. Busier than they have been in a long while. Part of me is pushing through, just waiting to see how far I can go before my body screams at me to stop. Well, tonight it screamed – and then laughed.

Yesterday was a busy day with driving two and a half hours total, first to a client meeting, then picking up glue sticks for a team craft project at work. I sat through a stressful, yet successful, client meeting, worked more at work, and then stayed late for a team event. I finally got to bed around 10:30 when I shut the computer off and called it quits on working.

This morning, I was up at the normal time, did some work, drove up to my daughter’s house, sat on an hour-long conference call, then drove her an hour away to the obstetrician to see if she was going to have her baby tonight or if we still had to wait till Tuesday. (We have to wait, unless baby decides differently.) Then we went to BabiesRUs and exchanged some stuff, and then drove home (I did most of the driving) to sit and watch baby videos of Cayden’s birth two and a half years ago.

Finally, I realized it was past 8 and time to go home. So, packing up my heavy computer into my computer bag, my knitting bag, and my purse laden with who knows what, I threw them all over my left shoulder, grabbed my coat, kissed my little grandson goodbye, and headed out the front door.

My son-in-law was outside talking on the phone to his mother, so I decided to walk around him. They have two paths to get to the drive way – one, the steps and concrete walkway where my son-in-law was standing, or the wooden wheelchair-accessible ramp with rails that runs parallel to the other path. I chose the wooden ramp.

I waved cheerily at Cody, said good night, took a couple steps and suddenly I’m performing a combination of a football player’s drop to one knee combined with a ballerina’s splits. My right leg goes straight out in front of me and my left leg folds up under me, folding my foot and ankle under my lower leg in a very unnatural way. I’d stepped on slug slime, combined with wet wood, and, voila!

At first I pulled myself up and hung over the railing, writhing in pain, tears messing up my mascara. Cody got off the phone, went inside and told my daughter I fell, and by the time they were all back outside to see if I was okay, the pain had subsided, for the most part.

Then the laughter set in. Geez, we are a sick bunch. I couldn’t stop laughing. Cody thought I was so graceful in my exit and way of saying “Bye!”, and Cindy, well, she couldn’t laugh too hard, she’d pee her pants – what with the baby pressing down and all.

Yup, we’re sick. Reminded me of the time the three of us were walking into Blockbuster’s and Cody thought the door was three feet before it really was, hung a quick and determined right turn and did a faceplant into the glass plate window and bounced back off of it. Literally. Cindy and I couldn’t stop laughing through the whole time we were in the store.

You know how they say actors have to drill into their memory banks to find things that evoke certain emotions? Well, now I have two memories firmly planted in my grey matter that will inevitably, without fail, push me to laugh till my sides hurt and I start snorting through my nose.

Oh, and my body said stop. Time to rest. At least until tomorrow morning. And watch out for snail slime.

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